IMSA President Scott Atherton says they are at a “real crossroads” on the future class structure of the Prototype class, amid mixed views to potentially separate the DPi and LMP2 platforms.
It comes in the wake of a dominant start to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season for DPi machinery, which have won all five races to date, despite multiple attempts to reign in the DPis to the benchmark global-spec LMP2 cars.
Atherton indicated that off-season development for several DPi manufacturers has raised the bar to a level where it’s now “very difficult” to balance the two platforms.
“Last year, if you look back at the results both in qualifying and racing, there was quite good parity and we expected that there would be some evolution in the offseason coming into this year, but not as much as has occurred,” he said.
“With all respect to the teams that are running in the P2 cars, the caliber and the resources and the capabilities of the DPi teams have reached a level of performance that has made it very difficult for us to balance the DPi back to the benchmark performance of P2.”
IMSA has made repeated adjustments to the DPis, to the point where Atherton said they have been pegged back “lower than even the lowest expectation.”
“That’s where it becomes a difficult conversation with our DPi partners in that we’ve taken them to a place that no one anticipated them being,” he said.
“We’re at a real crossroads now for where we go because if a team that had similar resources, driver talent, engineering talent, testing capability, etc came into the equation right now, it’s safe to say they would do quite well against the current level of performance we have the DPis at.
“We’re staying true to our word at least through the end of this season, but there is at least the investigation of alternatives going forward.”
Atherton, however, wouldn’t be drawn on specific solutions the sanctioning body is investigating.
“I don’t want to tip our cards right now as to what the options could be, but it is an issue that we recognize that needs to be addressed,” he said.
“We can’t just ignore it and pretend it will go away.
“The good news is that most, I wouldn’t say all, but most of the LMP2 teams understand the situation.”
“Far Reaching” Ramifications in Split DPi, LMP2 Classes
Atherton said that several teams have approached them on the idea of splitting LMP2 cars off into its own category, which would then allow IMSA to restore DPi performance to its intended levels.
“That’s not a new idea, that’s been around from the start,” he said. “We made a commitment from that start that we wouldn’t do that.
“There’s been one team in particular that was adamantly opposed to that. The reason they entered the category was to race for the overall win against the best and the brightest, and that’s why they’re there.
“Time evolves, results evolve, things change. I think I’m stating the obvious when I say that that option exists and is under consideration, but I don’t want that to be the headline because you could have said that six months ago.
“We would need to be very careful in making that decision because the ramifications of that are far reaching.”
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report